The ways in which we pay for things are definitely changing – and this is not just about online payment.
Alternative currency is on the rise, and peer-to-peer is becoming an increasingly important way to go about things, whether banking, lending or just paying for your cup of coffee at your local! Very much responding to the financial crisis, alternative currency is about removing the financial authority or bank from the process of making transactions.
Bitcoin has been one of the champions of the peer-to-peer movement gaining momentum across the world for a few years now.
Earlier in the year, the use of Bitcoins in Cyprus spiked amidst its own financial crisis, and questions of whether the Bitcoin could hold its value, despite a complete lack of confidence in government-led currency. Bitcoins were seen as viable alternative, even if the number of places in which transaction could be done were limited.
Yet Bitcoin appears to be surging now despite fluctuations in price throughout the year. With Chinese demand rising in the digital currency, Bitcoin is demonstrating itself a global currency. This is further backed up with the launch of Coinfloor, launched in London at the end of October, claiming to be the most powerful Bitcoin trading platform in the world.
Yet for me, peer-to-peer is still in essence about local and/or personal tranaction reflective of the urban lifestyles which we live. It also tallies with the need for safe, secure alternative currency payments outside the control of governments. Programmers are working all the time to ensure Bitcoin is completely safe and free of potential bots or malware!
Bitcoin is a big player in an alternative currency/payment movement enabling business and consumers to do trusted payments outside of a banking system – whether it’s a local currency such as the Brixton Pound, an mobile payment app such as Droplet, or even P2P savings such as Zopa … the way in which we pay or invest in things is evolving quickly.
Whilst in Vancouver the week before last, we went to the site of Robocoin, the world’s first Bitcoin ATM. Set up at a branch of Waves Coffee in downtown Vancouver, this is a real statement, a physical manifestation of the alt-currency movement.
Its premise is to offer retailers and consumers, a viable point in which to buy Bitcoin currency through feeding money … it’s a very visual representation – feeding your actual Canadian dollars into a machine to be converted into Bitcoin currency.
There’s even a Bitcoin Expo in London on November 30th 2013 inviting you to “find your peers” as it were.
We are no closer to the Gene Roddenberry imagined world free of money but the colour of money is definitely changing.